New COVID-19 restrictions that have been put in place just as local establishments gear up for the holiday season has prompted Bay Future, Inc. and the Bay Area Chamber of Commerce to revisit a previous business-boosting idea.
The two non-profits are announcing that it is reinstituting its Buy BC Gift Card Stimulus Program to help area small businesses. The agency’s Midland counterpart, the Midland Business Alliance, last week announced initiatives of its own to promote shopping local during the holiday season. The country is in the eighth month of the coronavirus epidemic and many businesses, faced with changing rules and restrictions, are reeling.
“Small businesses throughout our community are at a critical tipping point and are having to make difficult decisions that not only impact their livelihood and their families but may impact our community for years to come,” said Trevor Keyes, president and CEO of Bay Future, Inc. “They need coordinated resources and partnerships that can alleviate that burden.”
The MBA is keeping its business community informed of the changing rules and regulations so that companies can continue to operate safely and effectively, according to Tony Stamas, the organization’s president and CEO, noting that it continues to hone in on grant opportunities to help small businesses.
Buoyed by the success of its initial program that began in June, Bay Area Chamber and Bay Future officials decided a relaunch was in order in light of the most recent COVID restrictions, ostensibly a three-week pause in many business activities. The epidemic order was announced by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer during a Sunday, Nov. 15 press briefing and aims to halt the escalating spread of the virus throughout Michigan.
“Local businesses continue to face changing restrictions on capacity at the worst possible time,” said Ryan Tarrant, president and CEO of the Bay Area Chamber of Commerce. “Given the phenomenal success of the Buy BC program, we saw an opportunity to make a near immediate impact for our small business community.”
That initial business-boosting effort involved some 70 businesses and resulted in over $120,000 being injected into the local economy through patronage of local businesses. Thanks to business sponsors, customers will be able to purchase a $25 gift card for $20 that can be redeemed at participating businesses, which are primarily retail, restaurant and service establishments.
Bay Future and the Bay Area Chamber worked jointly to find investors to create a Buy BC Fund. Initial investors that will continue to support the effort include the Bay Area Chamber, Bay Future, Bay City Bridge Partners, AT&T, Downtown Restaurant Investments, Gordon Food Services and US Foods. The second round of the program is made possible through additional investments by First State Bank, HYMMCO, LLC, Michigan Sugar and Weinlander Fitzhugh.